Fandango’s Provocative Question #127

FPQ

Welcome once again to Fandango’s Provocative Question. Each week I will pose what I think is a provocative question for your consideration.

By provocative, I don’t mean a question that will cause annoyance or anger. Nor do I mean a question intended to arouse sexual desire or interest.

What I do mean is a question that is likely to get you to think, to be creative, and to provoke a response. Hopefully a positive response.

My provocative question this week stems from some disturbing articles I’ve been reading about spyware called Pegasus, which was developed by an Israeli cyberarms firm. Pegasus is spyware that can be covertly installed on mobile phones and tablets running most versions of iOS and Android. It exploits vulnerabilities on those operating systems.

According to the Washington Post and other prominent media sources, Pegasus not only enables the keystroke monitoring of all communications from a phone (texts, emails, web searches), but it also enables phone call and location tracking, as well as the ability hijack both the mobile phone’s microphone and camera, thus turning it into a constant surveillance device.

In short, Pegasus in a highly invasive tool, and can spy on almost any device and any social media networks and messaging apps. So far, it has been used by some, shall we say, unscrupulous governments to monitor smartphones belonging primarily to journalists, activists, business executives, lawyers, government officials, and perceived “enemies of the state.”

Knowing that spyware like Pegasus is out there, and that it can be used to hijack your smartphone, record your keystrokes, your voice communications, and your camera without any actions or knowledge on your part, my proactive question is…

How vulnerable do you feel about potential hacks or intrusions while using your smartphone? And if you do feel vulnerable, what steps, if any, are you taking to protect yourself and your data?

If you choose to participate, write a post with your response to the question. Once you are done, tag your post with #FPQ and create a pingback to this post if you are on WordPress. Or you can simply include a link to your post in the comments. But remember to check to confirm that your pingback or your link shows up in the comments.

TMP — Pay Attention, Dammit

7702A965-1F3A-47EA-ACB9-620D9D6C462FEvery Monday, Paula Light, with her The Monday Peeve post, gives us an opportunity to vent or rant about something that pisses us off.

Today, I’m going to focus on people who walk their dog (or dogs) while talking, typing on, or looking at their smartphones. Focusing on a smartphone while dog walking is distracting at best and potentially dangerous at worst. And it’s also inconsiderate of others, both human and canine.

Between my wife and I, we walk our dog four to five times a day and we look at walking her as our primary responsibility. We have our phones with us in case of emergency, but we don’t walk our dog and use our smartphone at the same time. Sure, I may go to a park bench and sit down to give our dog a rest and whip out my smartphone to check my newsfeed or the latest sports scores. But that’s for a few minutes at most, and when we start walking again, my phone goes back into my jeans pocket.

But I see people all the time who are walking their dogs and paying attention only to what’s on their smartphones. I’ve even seen one woman trip over her dog because she was texting with one hand when the dog on the leash stepped in front of her to smell something. She took a nasty fall and scared the shit out of her dog. I mean literally, the dog took a shit right there and then.

I’ve come across people whose dogs haven’t been properly socialized or aren’t well trained. The dog will, much to the surprise of their preoccupied owners, go after my dog. If they’d have looked up from their phone, they would have seen me and my dog coming and made sure that their own dog was under control. And then there are those who don’t even notice that their dog took a dump, much less interrupt their screen time to clean up after their dog.

So my rant today is aimed at all of those dog owners who pay more attention to their smartphones than they do to their dogs.TMP

Fandango’s Provocative Question #46

FPQWelcome once again to Fandango’s Provocative Question. Each week I will pose what I think is a provocative question for your consideration. I missed posting last week’s provocative question because I was busy hosting out-of-town guests and didn’t have time to come up with one. But I’m back this week.

Anyway, by provocative, I don’t mean a question that will cause annoyance or anger. Nor do I mean a question intended to arouse sexual desire or interest.

What I do mean is a question that is likely to get you to think, to be creative, and to provoke a response. Hopefully a positive response.

I was watching “Jimmy Kimmel Live” last week and he and his sidekick, Guillermo, paid a visit to the New Yorker magazine in an effort to get a cartoon published in the magazine. Neither was successful, but Jimmy came up with this cartoon, which serves as the inspiration for this week’s provocative question.CDAE46BB-E23E-40BF-BDB9-14331575A5F4The cartoon shows a picture of a young man sitting in a jail cell with headphones on. He’s busy using his smartphone when the prison guard apparently advises the guy in the cell that he’s entitled to a phone call. The guy then asks the guard, “What’s a phone call?”

This got me thinking. According to my iPhone’s screen time tracker, I typically spend eight to ten hours a day using that device. But I spend almost zero time talking on the phone. I don’t answer my phone unless I know who’s calling. And these days, I rarely get phone calls from people I know. My adult kids communicate with me exclusively via text messages. On those rare occasions when I use the phone to call them, the usual response I get is, “Why are you calling? Why didn’t you just text me?”

It seems that, increasingly these days, people of all ages are shunning phone calls in favor of chat apps and texting. So my provocative question this week is:

Has using a telephone for making calls become obsolete? For those of you who grew up without the internet or smartphones, is calling and speaking with people on the phone still important? For those of you who grew up only using smartphones, is it necessary to call anyone anymore?

If you choose to participate, write a post with your response to the question. Once you are done, tag your post with #FPQ and create a pingback to this post if you are on WordPress. Or you can simply include a link to your post in the comments.

The issue with pingbacks not showing up seems to have been resolved, but you might check to confirm that your pingback is there. If not, please manually add your link in the comments.

Cellular: A New Technology

DE89AFD5-5EAB-4D1B-9A7F-39E70114A02BStep into the Wayback Machine and set the dial for 1984.

“Sometime early next year, a new technology known as cellular will be available in the area.”

That quote came from a November 26, 1984, San Francisco Chronicle story titled “Cellular Phones Ready for Bay Area Debut.”

Back then, cellular technology was nascent and available to only the wealthy. That was partly because of the price. Cellular phones in late 1984 cost between $1,900 and $4,100 to install in a car, with a $39 per month base price, plus up to 50¢ per minute between seven in the morning and seven in the evening and 20¢ per minute the rest of the time.

Most early cellular phones were car phones.6ECEBA9C-347B-4420-9FCA-0D7E5706CEB7I remember when we got our first cellphone. It was a Motorola like the one pictured above. We mostly kept it in the car for “emergencies,” which typically consisted of me calling my wife on my drive home from work to tell her how cool it was for me to be calling her from my car.

The Chronicle reported, “Some units, weighing about seven pounds each, can be removed from the vehicles and carried in briefcases.” By the end of 1985, the article pointed out, Motorola had created a 3-pound phone. Is it any wonder that early, large, thick, and rectangular cellphones were often referred to as “bricks”?E03CCB48-AC16-4923-95A9-E980C769F257Cellphones today are tiny, handheld computers and super communications devices that are virtually ubiquitous. It’s hard to remember that just 34 years ago cellphones were heavy, expensive, and rare. Today, most people can’t imagine not having their smartphones with them at all times.

Think about that, millennials. And try to image how we will be communicating and interacting with each other 34 years from now. Assuming that the human race is still around in 34 years.

 

Hang Up the Phone!

Old fashioned green telephoneDo you still have a landline telephone? If you do, that’s so twentieth century of you. We gave up our landline phone in 2010. My wife and I both had cellphones, as did my son and daughter, so it became somewhat redundant to have a landline. And more importantly, to pay for a landline.

Well, my friends, it turns out I was prescient. I was reading the newspaper this morning and read an article that informed me that more than half of U.S. households have ditched landline phones.

(And yes, I see the irony of reading in a physical newspaper about how cellphones have replaced landlines, so no need to point that out to me.)

In 2006, just a dozen years ago, only 15.8% of survey respondents said they didn’t have a landline phone. Now, 53.9% of American households rely entirely on cellphones, according to a survey from the National Center for Health Statistics.

The shift from landline to wireless isn’t all that surprising. Today’s smartphones can do so much more than landlines. Like texting, emailing, surfing the net, and watching porn. At the same time, the quality and connectivity of cell service has become increasingly reliable, and many people who grew up in the age of cellphones and data plans have never even had to use a landline.

But before we Americans get all braggadocio about how tech-savvy we are, let’s bear in mind that in some European countries, 80 to 90 percent of households are wireless only.